HOW DO WE COPE WITH TRAUMA? Unfortunately, it seems as if no one can escape devastation, in some form or another. And oftentimes there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for how its victims are chosen.

It’s not what happens to us that defines us, however. It’s how we respond to what’s put in front of our path that shows what kind of people we are. I’m hopeful that these past few months have shown how resilient and close my family and larger community are.

You’ve likely noticed that I haven’t been as active with my blog, social media, and store, and I’d like to take the opportunity to share what’s been going on.

On August 7th, my family was evacuated from our family home of 50 years. Every summer for the past 10 years we have either been evacuated or on evacuation watch, so as usual we packed up our cars, emptied the freezers and fridge, and took photo albums and some paintings.

My brother took this photo from our dock the day we left our home.

My brothers and my mom left for Vancouver, but I stayed in Kelowna thinking we would be allowed back home within a week. Someone needed to be there when we were given the all clear. So that person was me.

On August 15th as my friend and I climbed up Knox mountain, it seemed that the entire area was burning or close to burning.

On the morning of August 16th I heard news from my neighbor that all had been lost. Everything. The fire had raged from two different directions and the firemen had to pull out. My family is devastated.

I value transparency and honesty, which is why I’m sharing with you my family’s personal tragedy. Furthermore, I wanted to share how I am coping to demonstrate that there are millions of people walking around this earth who are struggling with something traumatic (whether past or present) and still must go on.

A friend recently reminded me of the Buddhist phrase: Life is ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows. Having lost our family home to the White Rock Lake Fire, sorrow permeates the lives of my family and our community. We are devastated and, at moments, want to seek answers. At times we find ourselves wanting something or someone to blame. But ultimately it was a fire – an extremely aggressive rank 6 inferno.

When there are no answers it is only natural to feel despair and even anger.

YET we must remember the ten thousand joys that are sure to follow. THey may not come right away, but I can already feel the joy all around me. My lovely friends Donna and Mike let me stay with them as long as I needed; my TpT friends have sent me some incredible gifts and money to help my family as we get back on our feet. Tanis is renting my mom and me a beautiful home at a highly discounted rate while we sort out the insurance and see what is left of our home. Jordan, Kristen, William, and Mike have all offered support for our rebuild. There are countless friends that have emailed, called, and offered financial support (thank you Dee and Bill); people have offered us clothing, furniture, places to stay; my university has offered their support, and we have received at least 1000 online hugs!

So, thank you to the universe for pushing the joys up under our feet and helping us see the joys and move forward!

Since we all walk around with trauma, we must be cognizant of the effect our behaviors and habits have on people, even if we don’t know specifically what is going on with a person.

As teachers, we’ve been put through hell in order to reverse the negative impacts of this pandemic. We’ve been given an impossible task: help students catch up on what they “missed”. Mental health and awareness has never been more important to consider when teaching. Not only for ourselves, which is paramount, but also for our students. They’ve been through hell, too. While we’re walking around with our own personal and professional traumatic experiences, our students are doing so as well. I think this puts us in a unique and advantageous position to be strong support systems for each other and for students.

Coming soon, I’ll be publishing my thoughts on how we as teachers can help our students cope with tragic and traumatic experiences, however small and insignificant they may seem to be.

Until then, stay safe and well, friends!

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